Driving after night shift is scary.

  1. No more night shifts for more ever again in my life. I'd rather be unemployed for a few weeks, than doing that.

    One of the reasons why I changed my mind about becoming a nurse was the night shift, another reason why I never thought about joining the military or becoming a police officer either. The freaking night shift. Yeah, someone has to do it, otherwise, our society would not function, but most people are not made for it. Unless you are making some good money, there is no reason to be killing yourself working overnight shifts. Rotating shifts are even worse, your body never adjusts.

    Your social life suffers, not to mention, is almost impossible to find a girlfriend. It destroys relationships. Unless the woman works night shift as well, but what are the odds? Most women simply will not like it. They'd be like, what's wrong, you can't find a regular job? Most people work in the day, it would make any possible relationship impossible.

    Working the night shift makes you feel depressed, if you already have depressive tendencies, this is not good. You will be on constant zombie mode all the time. No matter how you adjust your life around, no matter if you use every single trick in the book, it is never the same, it makes sense, why humans did not evolve to sleep in the day and be awake at night. You may have slept 8 hours, but the quality of those 8 hours would probably translate to 4 or 5 regular hours slept at night.

    But, who sleeps 8 hours on a consistent basis while doing night shift? Nobody, some days, you will sleep fewer hours and won't be able to get back to sleep. You will be sleep deprived, even though you believe you are sleeping enough. This explains the constant tired, fog, zombie feeling. What matters is not the hours, but the quality of the sleep.

    Not to mention, the more you do it, the more problems you will have falling sleep, staying awake, you may develop insomnia, you have resort to all these tricks just to cope with it, and it shouldn't be that way.

    The drive back is the worse, what happens if you didn't sleep well the night before, and couldn't take naps, you are screwed, you will fall sleep and crash, the only think that may help you is drinking coffee 30 minutes before you go home, but this will ruin the quality of your sleep, even more than it is already.

    I worked overnight before while doing security. I dreaded the ride home every single time, I was afraid I would crash, so I drank coffee before driving, it helped, though, there were times that I had close calls, where I felt my body was about to give up on me, and I had to stop at a gas station, walk around, wash my face, drink some more coffee, etc.

    Problem is that it becomes an anxious feeling then, your on edge and anxious you may not make, the coffee that you took to stay more alert, makes you even more anxious and nervous, and what happens when you are nervous? You can make mistake, even more so, when sleep deprived.

    It is a horrible feeling, you don't feel safe, you are working so hard, only to total your vehicles that you worked so hard for or worse, kill yourself or others, it is even worse than driving under influence

    I have driven with alcohol in my system, and it can be done, you still have some control, it feels different, your reaction is slower, but you won't fall sleep unless you really need to sleep, you simply drive slower and stay on your lane, it can be done, but driving sleep deprived is twice as worse.

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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Rufian
    It also depends on what time you get off, where you live and how far away is it. If you get off work while it is still dark out there, it is worse, because you are more likely to want to sleep while driving, you will be less alert. Also, anything more than 30 minutes of distance is very risky. There have been studies that show that drivers have terrible reactions times only after 15 minutes of driving after the night shift, and this was done in a controlled situation, with no other vehicles and with another person to stop the vehicle. None of them had any problem driving after a full night sleep.

    It makes sense why, imagine if you constantly go to sleep at 10 pm every single day, what happens if one day you go to a party and you have to drive back home at 2 am? You will feel sleepy, even more so if you had a couple of drinks, but what will help you, is the fact that you are NOT sleep deprived, you've been sleeping properly for weeks if not months, so you will not have much of a problem. This explains why so many people go partying and have no problem getting back home, even if they had a few drinks. Also, this is a rare situation for these people. I have friends who do this and never have a problem.

    The night shift worker is another story, he is pulling this situation every single day he goes to work and with fewer hours of quality sleep than the regular dude mentioned above. Many times I would wake up at 4pm after 8 hours of sleep, and I would be tired already by 12am, while these regular people, who supposedly woke up in the morning, who should be more tired than I was (cause they've been awake many more hours than I have), they are still kicking and running without problems, what's the explanation for this?

    It is not the hours of sleep, we both had 8 hours of sleep, is the quality of sleep what matters. Some people require more quality sleep than others in order to be able to function properly. Everyone is different.
    Last edit by Rufian on Jun 30
  4. by   Newgradnurse17
    As some one who can't sleep at night, the night shifts are my favourite. I've always slept better during the day. And find it difficult to wake up early for anything. I think what you've said not completely correct. You have such a huge bias and fear Of night shift and you've deemed it as impossible to work nights. Way to many generalisation. This is a post more about your fear than anything else. Many people work nights everyday, and they get plenty of sleep, drive home safely and have relationships. My hospital does rotating 8 hour shifts and I couldn't be any more happier with it. My sleep patterns has never been better. I also live 45 min drive away and never had any problems.

    But out what made me more angry about this post was a health professional condemning drink driving. That is completely irresponsible. You should never drive drunk, and you should Never be saying it's ok you can still drive as long as do it slowly. You're a health professional, you have a service to the public. In my country if you are caught drink driving, it can have serious consequences for you career and can even cause you to lose you nursing licence.
    Last edit by Newgradnurse17 on Jun 30
  5. by   Rufian
    Quote from Nzrnsoontobe
    As some one who can't sleep at night, the night shifts are my favourite. I've always slept better during the day. And find it difficult to wake up early for anything. I think what you've said not completely correct. You have such a huge bias and fear Of night shift and you've deemed it as impossible to work nights. Way to many generalisation. This is a post more about your fear than anything else. Many people work nights everyday, and they get plenty of sleep, drive home safely and have relationships. My hospital does rotating 8 hour shifts and I couldn't be any more happier with it. My sleep patterns has never been better. I also live 45 min drive away and never had any problems.

    But out what made me more angry about this post was a health professional condoning drink driving. That is completely irresponsible. You should never drive drunk, and you should Never be saying it's ok you can still drive as long as do it slowly. You're a health professional, you have a service to the public. In my country if you are caught drink driving, it can have serious consequences for you career and can even cause you to lose you nursing licence.
    I'm not a health professional, hence why I said that I changed my mind about becoming a nurse. I'm not condoning drunk driving. I'm comparing it to drowsy driving after the night shift. I've done both. Both can be dangerous. I've read plenty of articles and some studies online about this topic.condoning drunk driving.

    I also said, everyone, is different, just because some people can do it, doesn't mean everyone can. Most people are simply not cut out to do well in the night shift. There is a reason why most people sleep at night and are awake in the day. Very obvious reasons.

    Of course, if a person works this shift, they are more likely to be biased as well, and rationalize/defend their decision for doing it. But to simply look down on a person for not being able to do it, or "hack it" as well as you can, is ridiculous.

    This has happened to me, if you complain about having problems doing the night shift, other people who can do it, or even worse, people who don't do the night shift, look at you, as if you are defective, or aren't you man enough? Why are you complaining like a crybaby. Man up and tough it up. Etc. Yeah right. They think that, just because they can do it, then everyone should.

    If you are happy doing the night shift, good for you, that's great. I know is not for me, and is definitely not for the majority of people.

    You claim, that lots of people have a relationship despite working night shift, yes, but is most cases, they were already in that relationship before that, in many cases, already married with kids, living in the same house. You have no choice but to make it work.

    Now, imagine being a single young man and having to work overnight every week. Finding a girlfriend and dating is already difficult as it is for most guys. This only makes it harder than it already is.

    I've had women be interested in me while I was working overnight shift, and you could tell that they didn't feel ok with me working that shift. Almost, as if they think, what's wrong with you, can't find a regular 9 to 5 job? They, of course, don't say to your face.

    Most people, especially women, work a 9 to 5pm job, which means they are available from 5pm to 11pm. If you work overnight, you are sleeping in the day, can you still see them? It is possible but is not ideal.
    Last edit by Rufian on Jun 30
  6. by   Newgradnurse17
    I don't actually work the night shift, like I said my hospital does rotating shifts.

    You are way to scared of night shift to make any sense. And claimed everyone thinks that way, when they don't. I think you need to open you mind!

    People like nights. People date and start relationships doing nights. People don't think you what's wrong with you get a real job, that is completely rediculous. You can live a normal life doing night it not this big scary thing you've made it out to be. Stop trying to generalise you fears.

    And why post on here if your not a nurse? Misleading.
  7. by   saltyninja
    This post is overly dramatic.

    Coming from someone typing this at 3:15 AM, on hour 11 of a 16 hour evening/overnight shift... if you are that afraid of working nights, please don't. It sounds like you are experiencing fear/paranoia to an extent that it impacts your ability to function, and I'd venture to say that perhaps you'd benefit from seeing a professional about the issue.

    I regularly work either a combination of evening shifts (4PM-12AM), overnight shifts (12AM-8AM), or doubles (4PM-8AM) and have 0 fear of driving to/from work, much less any of the other things you've mentioned.

    Perhaps it's because as a responsible adult I prepare myself both mentally and physically for the responsibility I undertake in choosing such an abnormal schedule... I make sure to make sleep a priority, eat a healthy diet that includes all the vitamins/nutrients I require, and exercise for both fitness and energy.

    I'm still fairly lost as to what the purpose of your post was... are you just venting about your poor planning and the inevitable consequences that ensue as a result? The beginning of the post states that you are no longer aiming to become a nurse, but you've found yourself ranting here on a student nursing forum...
  8. by   Rufian
    High risk of near-crash driving events following night-shift work

    study involving a global team of researchers from Boston and Australia. They conducted daytime driving tests on a closed driving track among 16 night shift workers who had just come off the job. The study found that the volunteers’ driving was dangerously worse after work than if they’d had a full night’s sleep.

    Six of the participants (37.5 percent) had 11 near-crashes during the driving test, which required the safety supervisors to use their emergency brakes to prevent a collision

    After sleeping almost eight hours the night before with no shift work, the 16 participants had zero near-crashes — and all finished the agreed-upon two-hour driving test. But when participants went through the same test after a night shift (at this point, it had been an average of 13 hours since their last sleep), there was a statistically significant increase in lane drifting, slow eye movements and “microsleep episodes” — temporary shut-eye that last more than three seconds. All of the near crashes occurred after at least 45 minutes into the driving test

    This was real driving in an actual car, putting everyone involved in the experiment at considerable risk,” he said. “And yet the impairment still came through, which shows just how strong the biological drive for sleep is.”

    Blasting the radio or rolling down the windows do not help keep you awake, authorities warn.

    “You might say, well there’s no other way I can get home from work,” Czeisler said. “But if you realized that you might actually die or kill somebody, maybe you’d come up with another alternative.”
    Not to mention

  9. by   soapfloats
    Cool story bro.
  10. by   YumCookies
    You could always take a quick nap in your car at your work's parking lot before heading out - I've done that on the few occasions I was too tired to drive back home safely.
  11. by   NurseNeLz
    [QUOTE=saltyninja;9497856]This post is overly dramatic

    Yes!
  12. by   Dragonnurse1
    I worked 9 years 4 months and 17 days all on nights in the ER and never had a bit of trouble with my driving. No accidents, no tickets no running off the road. My circadian rhythm has always geared me to nights. I could never get to a job on time if it started before 5 PM. Even now that I am not working if I let my natural cycle take control I will go to sleep about 5 AM and get up about noon. Not everyone has the same circadian rhythm.
  13. by   emmjayy
    Did OP really just come here to grind his axe about how horrible the night shift is? Don't like it? Move on, don't come and lecture an entire forum of nurses/wannabe nurses about it
  14. by   ERhealthtech
    I don't see the problem here. If you don't like nights, don't work it. You can't hack it, fine. But please, stop disrespecting the people who do love it. Stop trying to give us reasons why WE are the problem. You are. All the night nurses and techs at my ER are a bunch of rock stars who can and do anything and everything. Nothing gets by us. Yes we are adrenaline junkies, yes we thrive the busier it gets. The great thing about this profession is there is something for everyone: days, nights, swing shifts; there are floor nurses, critical care, ER, long term care...just understand that being good at one thing does not make you good at everything and putting others down does not make you better than anyone else. Peace

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